Seeking out the sun in South Fork’s Hanging Valley

With less than ¼-inch of snow on the trail, clear skies and temperature in the mid-20s, it was pleasant as I turned left (east) out of South Fork Valley and ascended into Hanging Valley. It was early afternoon on October 19th of this year, and contrary to my personal calendar that denotes winter only beginning on November 1st, it truly felt like winter—especially when a sudden breeze chilled my face. The trail’s scant snow covering was undisturbed, except for the tiny footprints of voles, squirrels, small birds and occasionally, that of a coyote. Moving into Hanging Valley, I entered shade and felt the temperature drop quickly by at least five degrees.